Now that I’ve seen the capitalist critiques and murderous slo-mo ballets of Killing Them Softly, last on the cinematic agenda between now and Django Unchained would be Zero Dark Thirty, which chronicles the global manhunt for Osama bin Laden in what we all hope to be chilling detail. But don’t let that description confuse you: allegedly, the script has no agenda at all!
Okay, I see where director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal are coming from when they say things like: “This is a pretty naturally dramatic and exciting story. You don’t really have to put too much topspin on the ball.” Because there’s nothing worse than an on-screen sermon. It’s funny, though, that a movie about enhanced interrogation and state-sanctioned assassinations finds the political climate at large something toxic enough to distance itself from.
I get it, really. You’re trying to present the facts of history as objectively and entertainingly as possible. It’s not intended as a polemic—and neither was Bigelow and Boal’s Hurt Locker—yet to say neither has a political vantage point, a moral compass, some guiding humanistic principles, is to ignore their subtle and remarkable effect on the final product. As Aaron Sorkin will never understand, this type of commentary can remain unspoken.
So come on, you two—quit playing coy. You make political movies. DEAL WITH IT. No one’s forcing you to attend $1000-a-plate party fundraisers. Or worse, start collecting bumper stickers.
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For most who’ve used BitTorrent to illegally download contemporary films, the consequences have only in rare cases been any more severe than a guilty conscience, but that may be about to change. The US Copyright Group is a DC-based venture that exists, according to their website, to “save cinema” by helping producers recoup losses from piracy and infringement on intellectual property rights. Heretofore the group has only filed lawsuits over smaller pictures (e.g. Uwe Boll’s Far Cry), but now The Hollywood Reporter has it that Voltage pictures, the banner behind The Hurt Locker, has signed on with the firm to litigate against any and all who downloaded the best picture winner unlawfully. Tens of thousands of “pirates” are likely to be targeted in a suit that could be filed as early as today.
The way this works is that the US Copyright Group subpoenas various ISP’s demanding the identities of the illegal downloaders. Once they’ve gotten the names, they send out individual “cease and desist” letters accompanied by a settlement offer. Those who do not accept can expect further litigation. Thomas Dunlap, a lawyer at the firm, offers that 75% of ISPs have been cooperating, and of those individuals already sent settlement offers in the past, some 40% have paid up.
Although Dunlap won’t reveal just how many people will be named in The Hurt Locker suit, it’s nevertheless poised to be largest effort the group has yet attempted. The film leaked onto the internet a full five months before its release which, it could hypothetically be argued, may have had something to do with the film’s paltry returns (16million) despite all of the critical hosannas and accolades that attended it. If the suit works, and significant money is recouped, expect to see a lot more of this sort of thing.
What I want to know is how much it’s actually costing folks to settle? I’m guessing it’s significantly more than the cost of a ticket, and high enough for anyone who gets caught to perforce think twice before the next illicit download. Say, fifty bucks?